Foreign policy of the United States: Wikis


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The foreign policy of the United States is the policy by which the United States interacts with foreign nations. The U.S. is highly influential in the world. The global reach of the United States is backed by a $14.3 trillion dollar economy, approximately a quarter of global GDP, and a defense budget of $711 billion, which accounts for approximately half of global military spending. The U.S. Secretary of State is the foreign minister and is the official charged with state-to-state diplomacy, although the president has ultimate authority over foreign policy.

The officially stated goals of the foreign policy of the United States, as mentioned in the Foreign Policy Agenda of the U.S. Department of State, are "to create a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community."[1] In addition, the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs states as some of its jurisdictional goals: "export controls, including nonproliferation of nuclear technology and nuclear hardware; measures to foster commercial intercourse with foreign nations and to safeguard American business abroad; International commodity agreements; international education; and protection of American citizens abroad and expatriation."[2] U.S. foreign policy has been the subject of much debate, praise and criticism both domestically and abroad.[3]


Foreign policy powers of the President and Congress

Subject to the advice and consent role of the U.S. Senate, the President of the United States negotiates treaties with foreign nations, but treaties enter into force only if ratified by two-thirds of the Senate.[4] The President is also Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces, and as such has broad authority over the armed forces; however only Congress has authority to declare war,[5] and the civilian and military budget is written by the Congress.[6] The United States Secretary of State is the foreign minister of the United States and is the primary conductor of state-to-state diplomacy. Both the Secretary of State and ambassadors are appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate. Congress also has power to regulate commerce with foreign nations.

Overview of history of U.S. foreign policy

The Jay Treaty of 1795 aligned the U.S. more with Britain and less with France, leading to political polarization at home

The major themes regarding the history of U.S. foreign policy from the American Revolution to the present are isolationism in the nineteenth century and global hegemony in the twentieth.[citation needed] Despite occasional entanglements with European Powers such as the War of 1812 and the Spanish-American War in 1898, the foreign policy of the U.S. was marked by steady expansion in its size during the nineteenth century as well as a policy of avoiding wars with European powers. The Louisiana Purchase doubled the nation's geographical space and a war with Mexico in 1848 added the territories of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Spain ceded the territory of Florida. The U.S. bought Alaska from Russia. Around the turn of the twentieth century, it looked as if the U.S. might become a colonial power similar to Britain or France or Spain since it acquired the territories of Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, but with the exception of Puerto Rico (which chose by election to remain part of the United States), the U.S. has not made these territories part of the nation. The Civil War set an important precedent of national will over states' rights.

The twentieth century was marked by serious world wars in which the United States, along with allied powers, defeated its enemies but at great cost in terms of lives and treasure. The U.S. rose to become a dominant but noncolonial mercantile power with broad influence.[citation needed] The latter half of the twentieth century witnessed the world divided into two camps, one led by the U.S., the other by the Soviet Union, characterized by ideological struggle.[citation needed] A policy of containment led to[citation needed] a series of proxy wars with mixed results[citation needed]. In 1989, the Soviet Union dissolved into separate nations, and as the Cold War ended without armageddon or World War III, new challenges confront U.S. policymakers[citation needed]. Still U.S. foreign policy is characterized by a commitment to free trade, protection of American interests, and a concern for human rights[citation needed].

In the twenty-first century, U.S. influence remains strong but, in relative terms, is declining in terms of economic output compared to rising nations such as China, India, Russia, Brazil, and the newly consolidated European Union. Substantial problems remain, such as climate change, nuclear proliferation, and the specter of nuclear terrorism. Foreign policy analysts Hachigian and Sutphen in their book The Next American Century suggest all six powers have similar vested interests in stability and terrorism prevention and trade; if they can find common ground, then the next decades may be marked by peaceful growth and prosperity.[7]

Foreign policy law

In the United States, there are three types of treaty-related law:

  • Congressional-executive agreements are made by the president or Congress. When made by Congress, a majority of both houses makes it binding much like regular legislation. While the constitution does not expressly state that these agreements are allowed, and while constitutional scholars such as Laurence Tribe think they're unconstitutional, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld their validity.
  • Executive agreements are made by the president alone.
  • Treaties are formal written agreements specified by the Treaty Clause of the Constitution. The president makes a treaty with foreign powers, but then the proposed treaty must be ratified by a two-thirds vote in the Senate. For example, President Wilson proposed the Treaty of Versailles after World War I after consulting with allied powers, but this treaty was rejected by the U.S. Senate; as a result, the U.S. subsequently made separate agreements with different nations. While most international law has a broader interpretation of the term treaty, the U.S. sense of the term is more restricted.

International law in most nations considers all three of the above agreements as treaties. In most nations, treaty laws supersede domestic law. So if there's a conflict between a treaty obligation and a domestic law, then the treaty usually prevails.

In contrast to most other nations, the United States considers the three types of agreements as distinct. Further, the United States incorporates treaty law into the body of U.S. federal law. As a result, Congress can modify or repeal treaties afterwards. It can overrule an agreed-upon treaty obligation even if this is seen as a violation of the treaty under international law. Several U.S. court rulings confirmed this understanding, including the 1900 Supreme Court decision in Paquete Habana, a late 1950s decision in Reid v. Covert, and a lower court ruling in 1986 in Garcia-Mir v. Meese. Further, the Supreme Court has declared itself as having the power to rule a treaty as void by declaring it "unconstitutional", although as of 2009, it has never exercised this power.

While the United States is not a signer of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, the State Department has taken the position that the Vienna convention represents established law. Generally when the U.S. signs a treaty, it is binding. However, because of the Reid v. Covert decision, the U.S. adds a caveat to the text of every treaty that says, in effect, that the U.S. intends to abide by the treaty, but if the treaty is found to be in violation of the Constitution, then the U.S. legally can't abide by the treaty. However, the Vienna Convention doesn't excuse nations from wiggling out of treaty obligations on grounds of unconstitutionality. So there is a possibility of conflict between U.S. law and international law on this basis. It has been argued that American reservations are invalid because they're too vague and broad. There are further complications involved, according to legal thinkers.[8]

Geography of American foreign policy

Diplomatic relations

Map indicating states and territories and their diplomatic relations with the U.S.
     the United States      Nations with which the U.S. has diplomatic relations      Nations with which the U.S. does not have diplomatic relations      disputed areas

The United States has one of the largest diplomatic presences of any nation. Almost every country in the world has both a U.S. embassy and an embassy of its own in Washington, D.C. Only a few countries do not have formal diplomatic relations with the United States. They are:

In practical terms however, this lack of formal relations do not impede the U.S.'s communication with these nations. In the cases where no U.S. diplomatic post exists, American relations are usually conducted via the United Kingdom, Canada, Switzerland, or another friendly third-party. In the case of the Taiwan (Republic of China), de facto diplomatic relations are conducted through the American Institute in Taiwan. United States relations with Taiwan are not formal due to the recognition of the Peoples Republic of China as the sole Chinese regime. The U.S. also operates an "Interests Section in Havana". While this does not create a formal diplomatic relationship, it fulfils most other typical embassy functions.[citation needed]

Territorial disputes

The United States is involved with several territorial disputes, including maritime disputes with Canada over the Dixon Entrance, Beaufort Sea, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Northwest Passage, and areas around Machias Seal Island and North Rock.[10] These disputes have become dormant recently, and are largely considered not to affect the strong relations between the two nations.

Other disputes include:

  • The U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, which is leased from Cuba. Only mutual agreement or U.S. abandonment of the area can terminate the lease. Cuba contends that the lease is invalid as the Platt Amendment creating the lease was included in the Cuban Constitution under threat of force and thus is voided by article 52 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. However, even though the conditions surrounding the lease agreement can be debated, the fourth article of that same treaty specifies the non-retroactivity of its law on treaties made before it.
  • Haiti claims Navassa Island.
  • The U.S. has made no territorial claim in Antarctica (but has reserved the right to do so) and does not recognize the claims of any other nation.
  • The Marshall Islands claim Wake Island.

The U.S. maintains a Normal Trade Relations list and several countries are excluded from it, which means that their exports to the United States are subject to significantly higher tariffs.


A map of allies of the United States
     NATO member states, including their colonies and overseas possessions      Major non-NATO allies, plus Republic of China (Taiwan)      Signatories of Partnership for Peace with NATO

The United States is a founding member of NATO, the world's largest military alliance. The 28 nation alliance consists of neighbour,Canada and much of Europe, including NATO's second largest military; the United Kingdom . Under the NATO charter, the United States is compelled to defend any NATO state that is attacked by a foreign power. NATO is restricted to within the North American and European areas. Starting in 1989, the United States also created a major non-NATO ally status (MNNA) for five nations; this number was increased in the late 1990s and following the September 11 attacks; it currently includes fourteen nations. Each such state has a unique relationship with the United States, involving various military and economic partnerships and alliances.

The United States, has seven major non-NATO allies in the Greater Middle East region. In particular, Israel is provided by the U.S. with billions in foreign aid annually (see Israel–United States relations). President Bush supported the 2006 Lebanon War and said Israel has a right to defend itself.[11] In January 2007, the State Department informed Congress of preliminary findings that Israel may have violated agreements by using cluster bombs against civilian populated areas. A final determination has not been made. Israel has denied violating agreements, saying that it had acted in self-defense.[12] Other MNNA and NATO allies include South Korea, Germany, Poland, Turkey, Pakistan, and Japan.[citation needed]

Taiwan (Republic of China), does not have official diplomatic relations recognized and is no longer officially recognized by the State Department of the United States, but it conducts unofficial diplomatic relations through their de facto embassy, commonly known as the "Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO)", and is considered to be a strong Asian ally of the United States.[13] The U.S. has built a non-NATO alliance with Pakistan to assist with the War in Afghanistan and jointly combat terror in the subcontinent.

U.S. State Secretary Condoleezza Rice signed the Defense Cooperation Agreement with Bulgaria, a new NATO member, in 2006. The treaty allows the U.S. (not NATO) to develop as joint U.S.-Bulgarian facilities the Bulgarian air bases at Bezmer (near Yambol) and Graf Ignatievo (near Plovdiv), the Novo Selo training range (near Sliven), and a logistics centre in Aytos, as well as to use the commercial port of Burgas. At least 2,500 U.S. personnel will be located there. The treaty also allows the U.S. to use the bases "for missions in tiers country without a specific authorization from Bulgarian authorities", and grants U.S. militaries immunity from prosecution in this country.[14] Another agreement with Romania permits the U.S. to use the Mihail Kogălniceanu base and another one nearby.[14] Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili sees membership of the NATO as a premise of stability for Georgia. On March 9, 2007, President Saakashvili announced his plans to increase total Georgian troop strength in Iraq to 2000, making Georgia one of the biggest supporters of Coalition Forces, and keeping its troops in Kosovo and Afghanistan.[15] Following the outbreak of war between Georgia and Russia on August 8, 2008, Mikheil Saakashvili said that Georgia was pulling its entire 2,000-strong contingent of troops from Iraq.[16] During August 10 and 11, 2008, the U.S. Air Force airlifted the whole contingent out of Iraq.[17] There have been some concerns about Saakashvili monopolizing power since his coming to office in 2004.[18]

Ukraine also has a close relationship with the United States. US President George W. Bush and both nominees for President of the United States in the 2008 election, U.S. senator Barack Obama and U.S. senator John McCain, did offer backing to Ukraine's membership of NATO.[19][20][21] Russian reactions are negative.[22] At a Nato summit in Bucharest in April 2008 President Bush pressed NATO to ignore Russia's objections and back membership for Ukraine and Georgia.[23] Ukraine is currently the only non-NATO member supporting every NATO mission.[24] President Bush noted that the President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko was the first foreign leader he called after his inaugural address.[25]

The UN Security Council remains divided on the question of Kosovo declaration of independence. Kosovo declared its independence on February 17, 2008, which Serbia opposes. Of the five members with veto power, USA, UK, and France recognized the declaration of independence, and China has expressed concern, while Russia considers it illegal. "In its declaration of independence, Kosovo committed itself to the highest standards of democracy, including freedom and tolerance and justice for citizens of all ethnic backgrounds", Bush said on February 19, 2008.[26][27]

United Kingdom-United States relations

United States foreign policy affirms its alliance with the United Kingdom as its most important bilateral relationship in the world, evidenced by aligned political affairs between the White House and 10 Downing Street, as well as joint military operations carried out between the two nations. While both the United States and the United Kingdom maintain close relationships with many other nations around the world, the level of cooperation in military planning, execution of military operations, nuclear weapons technology, and intelligence sharing with each other has been described as "unparalleled" among major powers throughout the 20th and early 21st century.[28]

The United States and the United Kingdom share the world's largest foreign direct investment partnership. American investment in the United Kingdom reached $255.4 billion in 2002, while British direct investment in the United States totaled $283.3 billion.[29]

Canada-United States relations

The bilateral relationship between Canada and the United States is of extreme importance to both countries. About 75–85% of Canadian trade is with the United States, and Canada is the United States' largest trading partner. While there are disputed issues between the two nations, relations are close and the two countries famously share the "world's longest undefended border."

Canada was a close ally of the United States in both World Wars (though in both cases Canadian involvement preceded U.S. involvement by several years), the Korean War, and the Cold War. Canada was an original member of NATO and the two countries' air defenses are fused in NORAD.

Mexico-United States relations

The United States shares a unique and often complex relationship with the United Mexican States. With shared history stemming back to the Texas Revolution and the Mexican-American War, several treaties have been concluded between the two nations, most notably the Gadsden Purchase, and multilaterally with Canada, the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico and the United States are members of various international organizations, such as the Organization of American States and the United Nations. Illegal immigration, arms sales, and drug smuggling continue to be contentious issues in 21st-century Mexican-American relations.

Australia-United States relations

Americas's relationship with Australia is a very close one, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stating that "America doesn't have a better friend in the world than Australia".[30] The relationship is formalised by the ANZUS treaty and the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement. The two countries have a shared history, both have previously been British Colonies and many Americans flocked to the Australian goldfields in the 1800s. At a strategic level, the relationship really came to prominence in World War 2, when the two nations worked extremely closely in the Pacific war against Japan, with General Douglas Macarthur undertaking his role as Supreme Allied Commander based in Australia, effectively having Australian troops and resources under his command. During this period, the cultural interaction between Australia and the US were elevated to a higher level as over 1 million U.S. military personnel moved through Australia during the course of the war. The relationship continued to evolve throughout the second half of the 20th Century, and today now involves strong relationships at the executive and mid levels of government and the military, leading Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Kurt M. Campbell to declare that "in the last ten years, [Australia] has ascended to one of the closest one or two allies [of the U.S.] on the planet"[31].

Hub and Spoke vs Multilateral

While America's relationships with Europe have tended to be in terms of multilateral frameworks, such as NATO, America's relations with Asia have tended to be based on a series of bilateral relationships where the client states would coordinate with the United States in order to not have to deal directly with each other. On May 30, 2009, at the Shangri-La Dialogue Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates urged the nations of Asia to build on this hub and spoke model as they established and grew multilateral institutions such as ASEAN, APEC and the ad hoc arrangements in the area.[32]


Persian Gulf

The U.S. currently produces about 40% of the oil that it consumes; its imports have exceeded domestic production since the early 1990s. Since the U.S.'s oil consumption continues to rise, and its oil production continues to fall, this ratio may continue to decline.[33] President George W. Bush has identified dependence on imported oil as an urgent "national security concern".[34]

Two-thirds of the world's proven oil reserves are estimated to be found in the Persian Gulf.[35][36] Despite its distance, the Persian Gulf region was first proclaimed to be of national interest to the United States during World War II. Petroleum is of central importance to modern armies, and the United States—as the world's leading oil producer at that time—supplied most of the oil for the Allied armies. Many U.S. strategists were concerned that the war would dangerously reduce the U.S. oil supply, and so they sought to establish good relations with Saudi Arabia, a kingdom with large oil reserves.[37]

The Persian Gulf region continued to be regarded as an area of vital importance to the United States during the Cold War. Three Cold War United States Presidential doctrines—the Truman Doctrine, the Eisenhower Doctrine, and the Nixon Doctrine—played roles in the formulation of the Carter Doctrine, which stated that the United States would use military force if necessary to defend its "national interests" in the Persian Gulf region.[38] Carter's successor, President Ronald Reagan, extended the policy in October 1981 with what is sometimes called the "Reagan Corollary to the Carter Doctrine", which proclaimed that the United States would intervene to protect Saudi Arabia, whose security was threatened after the outbreak of the Iran–Iraq War.[39] Some analysts have argued that the implementation of the Carter Doctrine and the Reagan Corollary also played a role in the outbreak of the 2003 Iraq War.[40][41][42][43]


Almost all of Canada's energy exports go to the United States, making it the largest foreign source of U.S. energy imports: Canada is consistently among the top sources for U.S. oil imports, and it is the largest source of U.S. natural gas and electricity imports.[44]


In 2007 the U.S. was Sub-Saharan Africa's largest single export market accounting for 28.4% of exports (second in total to the EU at 31.4%). 81% of U.S. imports from this region were petroleum products.[45]

Foreign aid

Foreign assistance is a core component of the State Department's international affairs budget and is considered an essential instrument of U.S. foreign policy. There are four major categories of non-military foreign assistance: bilateral development aid, economic assistance supporting U.S. political and security goals, humanitarian aid, and multilateral economic contributions (e.g., contributions to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund).[46]

In absolute dollar terms, the United States is the largest international aid donor ($22.7 billion in 2006), but as a percent of gross national income, its contribution is only 0.2%, proportionally much smaller than contributions of countries such as Sweden (1.04%) and the United Kingdom (0.52%). The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) manages the bulk of bilateral economic assistance; the Treasury Department handles most multilateral aid.


The United States has fought wars and intervened militarily on many occasions. See, Timeline of United States military operations. The U.S. also operates a vast network of military bases around the world. See, List of United States military bases.

In recent years, the U.S. has used its military superiority as sole superpower to lead a number of wars, including, most recently, the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 as part of its global "War on Terror."

Military aid

The U.S. provides military aid through many different channels. Counting the items that appear in the budget as 'Foreign Military Financing' and 'Plan Colombia', the U.S. spent approximately $4.5 billion in military aid in 2001, of which $2 billion went to Israel, $1.3 billion went to Egypt, and $1 billion went to Colombia.[citation needed]

As of 2004, according to Fox News, the U.S. had more than 700 military bases in 130 different countries.[47]

Missile defense

The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) was a proposal by U.S. President Ronald Reagan on March 23, 1983[48] to use ground and space-based systems to protect the United States from attack by strategic nuclear ballistic missiles,[49] later dubbed "Star Wars".[50] The initiative focused on strategic defense rather than the prior strategic offense doctrine of mutual assured destruction (MAD). Though it was never fully developed or deployed, the research and technologies of SDI paved the way for some anti-ballistic missile systems of today.[51]

In February 2007, the U.S. started formal negotiations with Poland and Czech Republic concerning construction of missile shield installations in those countries for a Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system[52] (in April 2007, 57% of Poles opposed the plan).[53] According to press reports the government of the Czech Republic agreed (while 67% Czechs disagree)[54] to host a missile defense radar on its territory while a base of missile interceptors is supposed to be built in Poland.[55][56]

Russia threatened to place short-range nuclear missiles on the Russia's border with NATO if the United States refuses to abandon plans to deploy 10 interceptor missiles and a radar in Poland and the Czech Republic.[57][58] In April 2007, Putin warned of a new Cold War if the Americans deployed the shield in Central Europe.[59] Putin also said that Russia is prepared to abandon its obligations under a Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987 with the United States.[60]

On August 14, 2008, The United States and Poland announced a deal to implement the missile defense system in Polish territory, with a tracking system placed in the Czech Republic.[61] "The fact that this was signed in a period of very difficult crisis in the relations between Russia and the United States over the situation in Georgia shows that, of course, the missile defense system will be deployed not against Iran but against the strategic potential of Russia", Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's NATO envoy, said.[52][62]

Covert actions

United States foreign policy also includes secret actions, such as covert actions to topple foreign governments, including democratically-elected governments. For example, in 1953 the CIA, working with the British government, orchestrated a coup d'état against the democratically-elected government of Iran led by Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh who had attempted to nationalize Iran's oil, threatening the interests of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.[63] See Operation Ajax.

Other covert actions undertaken have not yet achieved their desired outcome. ABC news reported, citing U.S. and Pakistani intelligence sources, that U.S. officials have been secretly advising and indirectly funneling funding for a Pakistani Balochi militant group named Jundullah responsible for a series of deadly guerrilla raids inside Iran. The U.S. provides no direct funding to the group, which would require an official presidential order or "presidential finding" as well as congressional oversight; thus the U.S. finds ways to funnel money through Iranian exiles who have connections with European and Persian Gulf states, according to tribal leaders. The CIA denies funding the group.[64] Jundullah is suspected of being associated with al Qaida, a charge the group denied.[64][65] It has been reported that the U.S. already has military commando units operating inside Iran[66] working with the militant Balochi. U.S. policy aims to light "the fire of ethnic and sectarian strife" to destabilize and eventually topple the government of Iran.[66] [67]

More recently, after the Palestinian election in 2006 in which Hamas won the majority of seats in the Palestinian parliament, the U.S. provided training and major military assistance for an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and the West Bank, which was successful in removing Hamas from power in the West Bank.[68][69] Palestinian Authority President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas then installed an unelected "emergency cabinet", led by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, in place of the Hamas government in the West Bank.[70][71]

War on Drugs

United States foreign policy is influenced by the efforts of the U.S. government to control imports of illicit drugs, including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana. This is especially true in Latin America, a focus for the U.S. War on Drugs. Those efforts date back to at least 1880, when the U.S. and China completed an agreement that prohibited the shipment of opium between the two countries.

Over a century later, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act requires the President to identify the major drug transit or major illicit drug-producing countries. In September 2005 [6], the following countries were identified: Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela. Two of these, Burma and Venezuela are countries that the U.S. considers to have failed to adhere to their obligations under international counternarcotics agreements during the previous twelve months. Notably absent from the 2005 list were Afghanistan, the People's Republic of China and Vietnam; Canada was also omitted in spite of evidence that criminal groups there are increasingly involved in the production of MDMA destined for the United States and that large-scale cross-border trafficking of Canadian-grown marijuana continues. The U.S. believes that the Netherlands are successfully countering the production and flow of MDMA to the U.S.

Afghanistan is, as of March 2008, the greatest illicit (in Western World standards) opium producer in the world, before Burma (Myanmar), part of the so-called "Golden Crescent". As much as one-third of Afghanistan's GDP comes from growing poppy and illicit drugs including opium and its two derivatives, morphine and heroin, as well as hashish production.[72] Opium production in Afghanistan has soared to a new record in 2007, with an increase on last year of more than a third, the United Nations has said.[73] Some 3.3 million Afghans are now involved in producing opium.[74]

Former U.S. State Department Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Thomas Schweich, in a New York Times article dated July 27, 2007, asserts that opium production is protected by the government of Hamid Karzai as well as by the Taliban, as all parties to political conflict in Afghanistan as well as criminals benefit from opium production, and, in Schweich's opinion, the U.S. military turns a blind eye to opium production as not being central to its anti-terrorism mission.[75][76]

The Prime Minister for Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, is alleged to have extensive criminal links. During the period of time when Thaçi was head of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), it was reported by the Washington Times to be financing its activities by trafficking heroin and cocaine into western Europe.[77][78] The Bush administration has consistently supported Kosovo independence from Serbia.[79]

History of U.S. installing governments through military force

Critics have sometimes accused the U.S. of trying to use military force to install governments in foreign nations[80] in a way that works against the interests of other peoples and nations or that had good intentions but failed to achieve the intended good results.[81][82] Some studies suggest some interventions failed or backfired or were ineffective,[83][84][85][86][87] while others suggest success has been mixed[83][88][89][90][91] and in some cases results were positive.[83][92][92][93] There have been studies suggesting democracy failed to catch hold not because of American involvement but because conditions were not ready for the change.[94] Some thinkers suggest that economic development is a requirement before democracy can take root.[94]

Criticism of United States foreign policy

Critics cite extensive human rights abuses, support of dictatorships, overthrowing of democratically elected governments, economic imperialism, violations of international law, aggressive wars, and other issues. Criticism of American foreign policy contains a more detailed look at criticisms of American foreign policy.


U.S. President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during a meeting with Indian and American business leaders in New Delhi to discuss bilateral trade.

Regarding support for various dictatorships, especially during the Cold War, a response is that they were seen as a necessary evil, with the alternatives even worse Communist or fundamentalist dictatorships. David Schmitz challenges the notion that this violation of core American values actually served U.S. interests. Friendly tyrants resisted necessary reforms and destroyed the political center (though not in South Korea), while the 'realist' policy of coddling dictators brought a backlash among foreign populations with long memories.[95][96]

Halperin et al. writes that there is a widely held view that poor countries need to delay democracy until they develop. The argument went —as presented in the writings of Samuel Huntington and Seymour Martin Lipset— that if a poor country became democratic, because of the pressures in a democracy to respond to the interests of the people, they would borrow too much, they would spend the money in ways that did not advance development. These poor decisions would mean that development would not occur; and because people would then be disappointed, they would return to a dictatorship. Therefore, the prescription was, get yourself a benign dictator — it was never quite explained how you would make sure you had a dictator that spent the money to develop the country rather than ship it off to a Swiss bank account—wait until that produces development, which produces a middle class, and then, inevitably, the middle class will demand freedom, and you will have a democratic government. The study argues that this is wrong. Poor democracies perform better, including also on economic growth if excluding East Asia, than poor dictatorships.[97]

Many of the U.S.'s former enemies have democratized, and many have become U.S. allies. The Philippines (1946), South Korea (1948), West Germany (1949), Japan (1952), Austria (1955), the Panama Canal Zone (1979), the Federated States of Micronesia (1986), the Marshall Islands (1986), and Palau (1994) are examples of former possessions that have gained independence. Many nations in Eastern Europe have joined NATO. (Note, statements regarding degree of democracy are based on the classification at these times in the Polity data series).

Many democracies have voluntary military affairs with United States. See NATO, ANZUS, Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, Mutual Defense Treaty with South Korea, and Major non-NATO ally. Those nations with military alliances with the U.S. can spend less on the military since they can count on U.S. protection. This may give a false impression that the U.S. is less peaceful than those nations. [7] [8]

Research on the democratic peace theory has generally found that democracies, including the United States, have not made war on one another. There have been U.S. support for coups against some democracies, but for example Spencer R. Weart argues that part of the explanation was the perception, correct or not, that these states were turning into Communist dictatorships. Also important was the role of rarely transparent United States government agencies, who sometimes mislead or did not fully implement the decisions of elected civilian leaders.[98]

Empirical studies (see democide) have found that democracies, including the United States, have killed much fewer civilians than dictatorships.[99][100] Media may be biased against the U.S. regarding reporting human rights violations. Studies have found that New York Times coverage of worldwide human rights violations predominantly focuses on the human rights violations in nations where there is clear U.S. involvement, while having relatively little coverage of the human rights violations in other nations.[101][102] For example, the bloodiest war in recent time, involving eight nations and killing millions of civilians, was the Second Congo War, which was almost completely ignored by the media. Finally, those nations with military alliances with the U.S. can spend less on the military and have a less active foreign policy since they can count on U.S. protection. This may give a false impression that the U.S. is less peaceful than those nations.[103][104]

Niall Ferguson argues that the U.S. is incorrectly blamed for all the human rights violations in nations they have supported. He writes that it is generally agreed that Guatemala was the worst of the US-backed regimes during the Cold War. However, the U.S. cannot credibly be blamed for all the 200,000 deaths during the long Guatemalan Civil War.[96] The U.S. Intelligence Oversight Board writes that military aid was cut for long periods because of such violations, that the U.S. helped stop a coup in 1993, and that efforts were made to improve the conduct of the security services.[105]

Today the U.S. states that democratic nations best support U.S. national interests. According to the U.S. State Department, "Democracy is the one national interest that helps to secure all the others. Democratically governed nations are more likely to secure the peace, deter aggression, expand open markets, promote economic development, protect American citizens, combat international terrorism and crime, uphold human and worker rights, avoid humanitarian crises and refugee flows, improve the global environment, and protect human health." [9] According to former U.S. President Bill Clinton, "Ultimately, the best strategy to ensure our security and to build a durable peace is to support the advance of democracy elsewhere. Democracies don't attack each other."[106] In one view mentioned by the U.S. State Department, democracy is also good for business. Countries that embrace political reforms are also more likely to pursue economic reforms that improve the productivity of businesses. Accordingly, since the mid-1980s, under President Ronald Reagan, there has been an increase in levels of foreign direct investment going to emerging market democracies relative to countries that have not undertaken political reforms. [10]

The United States officially maintains that it supports democracy and human rights through several tools [11] Examples of these tools are as follows:

  • A published yearly report by the State Department entitled "Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record" in compliance with a 2002 law (enacted and signed by President George W. Bush, which requires the Department to report on actions taken by the U.S. Government to encourage respect for human rights. [12]
  • A yearly published "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices." [13]
  • In 2006 (under President George W. Bush), the United States created a "Human Rights Defenders Fund" and "Freedom Awards." [14]
  • The "Human Rights and Democracy Achievement Award" recognizes the exceptional achievement of officers of foreign affairs agencies posted abroad. [15]
  • The "Ambassadorial Roundtable Series", created in 2006, are informal discussions between newly-confirmed U.S. Ambassadors and human rights and democracy non-governmental organizations. [16]
  • The National Endowment for Democracy, a private non-profit created by Congress in 1983 (and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, which is mostly funded by the U.S. Government and gives cash grants to strengthen democratic institutions around the world

See also

Constitutional and International Law




Policy and Doctrine


  1. ^ U.S. Dept of State - Foreign Policy Agenda
  2. ^ Committee on Foreign Affairs: U.S. House of Representatives
  3. ^
  4. ^ U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 2,
  5. ^ U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8,
  6. ^ U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 7,
  7. ^ Nikolas K. Gvosdev (2008-01-02). "FDR's Children". National Interest. Retrieved 2010-01-13. "Hachigian ... and Sutphen ... recognize that the global balance of power is changing; that despite America's continued predominance, the other pivotal powers "do challenge American dominance and impinge on the freedom of action the U.S. has come to enjoy and expect." Rather than focusing on the negatives, however, they believe that these six powers have the same vested interests: All are dependent on the free flow of goods around the world and all require global stability in order to ensure continued economic growth (and the prosperity it engenders)." 
  8. ^ 52 Duke L. J. 485 at
  9. ^ Article on Bhutan
  10. ^ "Transnational Issues". April 20, 2006. CIA World factbook. Accessed April 30, 2006.
  11. ^ Bush: 'Israel Has Right to Defend Itself'
  12. ^ CRS Report for Congress, Israel: Background and Relations with the United States
  13. ^ Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, ed., Dangerous Strait: The U.S.-Taiwan-China Crisis (2005)
  14. ^ a b OTAN - Le grand jeu des bases militaires en terre européenne, Manlio Dilucci, French translation published on May 9, 2006, in Le Grand Soir newspaper of an article originally published in Il Manifesto on April 30, 2006
  15. ^ Georgia to double troops in Iraq BBC
  16. ^ "Peace bid as Ossetia crisis rages". BBC. 2008-08-09. Retrieved 2008-08-09. 
  17. ^ "U.S. takes Georgian troops home from Iraq". Air Force Times. 2008-08-11. Retrieved 2008-08-12. 
  18. ^ Tear gas used on Georgia protest, BBC News, 7 November 2007
  19. ^ BBC NEWS | Europe | Bush to back Ukraine's Nato hopes
  20. ^ Obama Statement on Ukraine's Commitment to Join NATO | U.S. Senator Barack Obama
  21. ^ McCain Backs Tougher Line Against Russia - March 27, 2008 - The New York Sun
  22. ^ Nato allies divided over Ukraine and Georgia,, December 2, 2008
  23. ^ Nato summit: George Bush backs Ukraine and Georgia for Nato, The Times, April 2, 2008
  24. ^ Bush backs Ukraine on Nato bid, BBC News, April 1, 2008
  25. ^ The Orange Revolution: One Year Later, Paula J. Dobriansky, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs, December 5, 2005
  26. ^ Bush Hails Kosovo Independence, U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Information Programs
  27. ^ Bush insists Kosovo must be independent and receives hero's welcome in Albania, The Guardian
  28. ^ James, Wither (March 2006). "An Endangered Partnership: The Anglo-American Defence Relationship in the Early Twenty-first Century". European Security 15 (1): 47–65. doi:10.1080/09662830600776694. ISSN 0966-2839. 
  29. ^ US Department of State, Background Note on the United Kingdom
  30. ^ [1]
  31. ^ [2]
  32. ^ Gates Delivers Keynote Address to Open Asia Security Conference
  33. ^ Crude Oil and Total Petroleum Imports Top 15 Countries
  34. ^ Bush Leverage With Russia, Iran, China Falls as Oil Prices Rise,
  35. ^ Shrinking Our Presence in Saudi Arabia, New York Times
  36. ^ The End of Cheap Oil, National Geographic
  37. ^ Crude Designs: The Rip-Off of Iraq’s Oil Wealth
  38. ^ The war is about oil but it's not that simple,
  39. ^ The United States Navy and the Persian Gulf
  40. ^ What if the Chinese were to apply the Carter Doctrine?, Haaretz - Israel News
  41. ^ Selling the Carter Doctrine, TIME
  42. ^ Alan Greenspan claims Iraq war was really for oil, Times Online
  43. ^ Oil giants to sign contracts with Iraq, The Guardian
  44. ^ See Energy Information Administration, "Canada" (2009 report)
  45. ^
  46. ^ Foreign Aid: An Introductory Overview of U.S. Programs and Policy
  47. ^ Fox News, 1 November 2004 Analysts Ponder U.S. Basing in Iraq
  48. ^ Federation of American Scientists. Missile Defense Milestones. Accessed March 10, 2006.
  49. ^ Johann Hari: Obama's chance to end the fantasy that is Star Wars, The Independent, November 13, 2008
  50. ^ Historical Documents: Reagan's 'Star Wars' speech, CNN Cold War
  51. ^ "How Missile Defense Systems Will Work"
  52. ^ a b Missile defense backers now cite Russia threat
  53. ^ U.S. Might Negotiate on Missile Defense,
  54. ^ Citizens on U.S. Anti-Missile Radar Base in Czech Republic
  55. ^ Europe diary: Missile defence, BBC News
  56. ^ Missile Defense: Avoiding a Crisis in Europe
  57. ^ Russia piles pressure on EU over missile shield, Telegraph
  58. ^ China, Russia sign nuclear deal, condemn U.S. missile defense plans, International Herald Tribune
  59. ^ Russia threatening new cold war over missile defence, The Guardian
  60. ^ U.S., Russia no closer on missile defense,
  61. ^ Russia Lashes Out on Missile Deal, The New York Times, August 15, 2008
  62. ^ Russia angry over U.S. missile shield, Al Jazeera English, August 15, 2008
  63. ^ "Special Report: Secret History of the CIA in Iran". New York Times. 2000. 
  64. ^ a b Brian Ross; Christopher Isham (2007-04-03). "Exclusive: The Secret War Against Iran". The Blotter Blog (ABC News). Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  65. ^ Seymour Hersh, "Preparing the Battlefield, The Bush Administration Steps Up Its Secret Moves Against Iran", The New Yorker, July 8, 2008.
  66. ^ a b M K Bhadrakumar (2007-02-24). "Foreign devils in the Iranian mountains". Asia Times Online. Retrieved 2008-11-20. 
  67. ^ Fathi, Nazila (2007-02-15). "Car Bomb in Iran Destroys a Bus Carrying Revolutionary Guards". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-11-20. 
  68. ^ Vanity Fair, April 2008, "The Gaza Bombshell",
  69. ^ Mark Perry; Alastair Crooke (2007-01-09). "No-goodniks and the Palestinian shootout". Asia Times Online. Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  70. ^ "Palestinian rivals: Fatah & Hamas". BBC News. 2007-06-17. Retrieved 2008-11-20. 
  71. ^ Mahmoud al-Zahar (2008-04-16). "No Peace Without Hamas". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-11-20. 
  72. ^ "Afghanistan". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. December 13, 2007. 
  73. ^ Afghan opium production at record high
  74. ^ UN horrified by surge in opium trade in Helmand
  75. ^ "Is Afghanistan a Narco-State?" by Thomas Schweich, July 27, 2008, New York Times
  76. ^ "Combating Synthetic Drugs, A Global Challenge: U.S. and International Responses", by Thomas A. Schweich, Joseph T. Rannazzisi, James O'Gara, U.S. State Department
  77. ^ "KLA finances fight with heroin sales Terror group is linked to crime network"; Jerry Seper. Washington Times. Washington, D.C.: May 3, 1999. pg. A.1
  78. ^ KLA Linked To Enormous Heroin Trade / Police suspect drugs helped finance revolt, The San Francisco Chronicle
  79. ^ Divisions Harden over Kosovo Independence
  80. ^ Penceny, p. 2
  81. ^ Mesquita, Bruce Bueno de (Spring 2004). "Why Gun-Barrel Democracy Doesn't Work". Hoover Digest 2.  Also see this page.
  82. ^ Meernik, James (1996). "United States Military Intervention and the Promotion of Democracy". Journal of Peace Research 33 (4): 391–402. doi:10.1177/0022343396033004002. 
  83. ^ a b c Tures, John A. (PDF). Operation Exporting Freedom: The Quest for Democratization via United States Military Operations. PDF file.
  84. ^ Lowenthal, Abraham (1991). The United States and Latin American Democracy: Learning from History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 243–265. 
  85. ^ Penceny, Mark (1999). Democracy at the Point of Bayonets. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. p. 183. ISBN 0-271-01883-6. 
  86. ^ Lafeber, Walter (1993). Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-30964-9. 
  87. ^ Pei, Samia Amin (March 17 2004). "Why Nation-Building Fails in Mid-Course". International Herald Tribune. 
  88. ^ Penceny, p. 186.
  89. ^ Muravchik, Joshua (1991). Exporting Democracy: Fulfilling America's Destiny. Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute Press. pp. 91–118. ISBN 0-8447-3734-8. 
  90. ^ Przeworski, Adam; Przeworski, Adam; Limongi Neto, Fernando Papaterra; Alvarez, Michael M. (1996). "What Makes Democracy Endure" (– Scholar search). Journal of Democracy 7 (1): 39–55. doi:10.1353/jod.1996.0016. 
  91. ^ Penceny, p. 193
  92. ^ a b Hermann, Margaret G.; Kegley, Charles (1998). "The U.S. Use of Military Intervention to Promote Democracy: Evaluating the Record". International Interactions 24 (2): 91–114. doi:10.1080/03050629808434922. 
  93. ^ Review: Shifter, Michael; Peceny, Mark (Winter 2001). "Democracy at the Point of Bayonets". Latin American Politics and Society 43 (4): 150. doi:10.2307/3177036. 
  94. ^ a b Lowenthal, Abraham F. (March 1, 1991). Exporting Democracy : The United States and Latin America. The Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 1,4,5. ISBN 0-8018-4132-1. 
  95. ^ The United States and Right-Wing Dictatorships, 1965-1989. David F. Schmitz. 2006.
  96. ^ a b Do the sums, then compare U.S. and Communist crimes from the Cold War Telegraph, 11/12/2005, Niall Ferguson
  97. ^ Morton Halperin, Joseph T. Siegle, Michael M. Weinstein, Joanne J. Myers The Democracy Advantage: How Democracies Promote Prosperity and Peace March 17, 2005
  98. ^ Weart, Spencer R. (1998). Never at War. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-07017-9. p. 221-224, 314.
  99. ^ DEATH BY GOVERNMENT By R.J. Rummel New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1994. Online links: [3][4][5]
  100. ^ No Lessons Learned from the Holocaust?, Barbara Harff, 2003.
  101. ^ Caliendo, S.M. (1999). "All the News That's Fit to Print? New York Times Coverage of Human-Rights Violations". The Harvard International Journal of Press Politics 4: 48–69. Retrieved 2008-04-02. 
  102. ^ Caliendo, Stephen. and Gibney, Mark. (2006). American Print Media Coverage of Human Rights Violations. Retrieved 2008-04-02. 
  103. ^ Give peace a rating May 31, 2007, from The Economist print edition
  104. ^ Japan ranked as world's 5th most peaceful nation: report Japan Today, May 31, 2007
  105. ^ Report on the Guatemala Review Intelligence Oversight Board. June 28, 1996.
  106. ^ Clinton, Bill. "1994 State Of The Union Address". Retrieved 2006-01-22. 

Further reading

History of exporting democracy

External links

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